Written by Ron Hutchison

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi. Rabbi.' But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:2-13).

The pope of the Roman Catholic Church will be visiting the United States this week (September 21, 2015). The news media has been interviewing several spokesmen for the Roman Catholic Church leading up to his visit.  In an interview yesterday on Fox News Network two Roman Catholic priests were interviewed by a Fox News reporter concerning the pope's upcoming visit. During the interview the priests referred to the pope as "The Holy Father." Also, one of them called the pope "The Prince of Peace."

The teaching given in the scriptures at the beginning of this article has some interesting things to say about people exalting themselves above others in a religious context. Here Jesus taught about the scribes and Pharisees and how they sought exaltation and the praise of men. One way they did this was to wear religious titles. One of those titles was Rabbi. One was Father.  Jesus, of course is not teaching that it would be wrong to call our human father by that title, or those who teach us by the title of teacher. In fact He did this Himself (Matthew 10:21; 15:6 etc...). He is condemning the wearing of the names teacher and father as religious titles. 

When Jesus said, "Do not call anyone on earth your father...", does that exclude the pope and the priests of the Roman Catholic Church?  The word "anyone" is all-inclusive. Everyone on earth would be covered under the phrase "anyone on earth". The pope of the Roman Catholic Church is NOT the Holy Father, and it is a sin for him to claim that title. Jesus said, "One is your Father, He who is in heaven." How could anyone read what Jesus said in this passage and not see that it applies to everyone on earth, including the pope and priests of the Roman Catholic Church? In a religious context we have one Father and He is not here on earth - He is in heaven.

For mere men to place themselves as equals with the Father or the Christ is wrong and sinful. Jesus said, "...and you are all brethren." All human beings are on the same level. None of us are equal with God. In harmony with the teaching of this verse we must never try to exalt ourselves over others by our claim to have authority which we do not have or by wearing religious titles that are not authorized by God in the Bible.

In the context of religious titles, the title of Father can be worn by no human being. The title of Prince of Peace is only used one time in the Bible, and that is in reference to Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6). It is the height of presumption and rebellion for mere men (which the pope of the Roman Catholic Church and it's priests are) to wear the titles that belong only to God. I do not know if Paul was talking about the pope of Rome when he wrote what he did  in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, but read it and see what you think: "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."  For the pope of the Roman Catholic Church to take the title of "holy father" or for a Catholic priest to call the pope "the prince of peace," sure sounds like what the Holy Spirit described through Paul in 2 Thessalonians. Whether or not Paul was describing the pope of Rome in this passage, there is one thing we know. It is wrong for any person to "show himself that he is God." Anyone who wears the religious title "Lord God, the pope," or "holy father," is certainly making the claim that he is God.

Jesus said, "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  It is our prayer that the eyes of the pope of Rome and all of those who follow him and who look at him as a god will one day come to a knowledge of the truth and reject the idea that a person on this earth can be "the holy father" or the "prince of peace." "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven."


Return To Main Page